Good Reports, Bad Timing
Happy Dump Day! -- There are a few times of the year when the government officials are given extra special clearance to release information that could possibly produce negative public reaction. These usually fall on the day before a holiday such as July 3 or December 31. This ensures that there will be little coverage and little attention to these stories. Today, the Friday before a three-day Christmas weekend offers a rare opportunity to ensure almost no coverage of a controversial story. Therefore we shouldn't be too surprised that the US Department of Homeland Security used today as a target to release two long anticipated reports:
- DHS Privacy Office Report to the Public on the Transportation Security Administration's Secure Flight Program and Privacy Recommendations --This report follows the growth of the Secure Flight (aka CAPPS II) program back to its origins and blames the Transportation Security Agency for breaking both the Privacy Act and the E-Government Act. CDT has long suggested that DHS and the Army violated the Privacy Act. GAO had also suggested that this may be the case. However, until this report, DHS strongly maintained that it was not in violation of the law, citing an Inspectors General report to make their case. To its credit, the Privacy Office at DHS has put together an excellent set of recommendations that apply to many DHS programs.
It is refreshing to hear some common sense on these two projects, but it is a shame that the Administration felt the need to hide these lessons by waiting so long to release them on a day designed to limit their audience.